New Jersey Courts Recognize "Significant Harm" Involving Exorcisms on Children
Every day, there are news reports from around the world concerning claims of people and places being possessed by malevolent spirits. Always accompanying the claim of possession is the “service” of an exorcist, which is anyone who claims they can make the malevolent forces go away. While the concepts of possession and exorcism are notions designed to impress “children and some adults” (borrowing part of a phrase from James Randi), the consequences of such beliefs are all to real in the forms emotional, financial, and physical harm, including death.
So it is encouraging to read about the New Jersey State appellate court’s decision to uphold a lower court’s ruling which involves exorcisms. The original ruling affirms the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency’s decision take away a couple’s parental rights in order to protect their children from “significant harm” when the mother asked a priest to perform an exorcism on her toddlers. From NBC New York:
An appeals court upheld stripping parental rights from a New Jersey couple after a long series of damaging behavior, including when the mother took the children to a priest for an exorcism while the father was in prison. The children, now 7 and 6 years old, were 3 and 2 when the mother brought them to the priest because she was hearing voices and fighting an urge to give the kids to the devil, authorities said. The children’s father was serving a prison sentence for aggravated assault and robbery at the time. The exorcism request prompted the state to put the children in foster care. Over the next three years, the mother had four psychiatric hospitalizations and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, officials said.
The mother’s diagnosis coupled with the father’s lack of capabilities is terrible news for the family, but there is a very important silver lining. The authorities were able to prevent, in the words of the Superior Court judge, ” … significant harm for the children”. It is not explained in the reports exactly how the authorities found out about the mother’s request for the exorcism (the consulted priest may have informed the authorities, for which if he did, he should be lauded.)
Though it is very possible the state would have reached the decision to protect the children even if the exorcism inquiry were not part of the equation, it is newsworthy that a protective agency took the threats of an exorcism by the mother very seriously in their considerations, and equally encouraging that several courts have upheld the actions of the state.
Two young children are alive and unharmed because an exorcism did not occur.